Givenchy Dahlia Noir Eau de Parfum and Eau de Toilette : Perfume Reviews

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I can probably be forgiven for the erroneous assumption that Givenchy Dahlia Noir might be somehow dark.  After all, the name means “Black Dahlia” and what does this suggest but a grisly Hollywood murder?  Come to think of it, Givenchy seems the last house one would think of as conceiving a scent to match the name. Most of their names are meaningless and arrive somewhere between sounding good (Dahlia Noir) and sounding silly (Oblique Rewind).

dahlia noir

Dahlia Noir Eau de Parfum turns out to be a chypre based on rose, iris, and patchouli.  With a big citrus opening, it isn’t terribly dark, though.  Instead, it is intensely powdery, with the powder intended to describe the “femme fatale” allure of the marketing copy. To me though, the drydown of iris and vanilla is too strong on baby-powder. In its heightened use of this iris and vanilla, Dahlia Noir is somewhat similar to Guerlain L’Instant Magic.  Ultimately, the eau de parfum reveals a rosy center and a creamy patchouli base.

The Dahlia Noir Eau de Toilette is—surprise!!—a fruity floral. Immediate disconnect with the name. It’s pink and powdery, which isn’t bad in itself. It has no relation to the eau de parfum other than the continued use of powder notes.  The lemony opening is the best part of the eau de toilette, which also contains a pale fruity rose.  Still wearable, if a tad too synthetic.  What ruins the enjoyment for me is a whiff of plastic coconut that makes Dahlia Noir smell both powdery and tropical.  Further blurring the line between functional and fine fragrance, Dahlia Noir is something you could smell in any scented product—Febreeze, shampoo, laundry softener.  I find that depressing, but I suppose it means that good noses are making nice scents for functional products these days.

Although I understand brand continuity, I want to wrench the juice back from the creative minds and say, “Please call this Pink Dahlia.”  It just isn’t fair to give me an olfactory image and then steal it back so happily.  With Pink Dahlia, you have instantaneous gratification. And although this isn’t the most important thing on the world agenda, it sure would be nice to know exactly what you were getting.

Dahlia Noir Eau de Parfum includes notes of pink pepper, mandarin, rose, peach, cedarwood, sandalwood, vanilla, and amber. Dahlia Noir Eau de Toilette features pink pepper, mandarin, cedrat, rose, peach, cedarwood, sandalwood, vanilla, and amber. Available at Sephora and major retailers.

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40 Comments

  • Caroline: sigh. Realize nothing lasts forever, but wish these once iconic houses would put more imagination into their scent offerings. Givenchy used to have some good ones, right? Wasn’t Audrey Hepburn the face for at least one of them? July 23, 2013 at 9:18am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t think that she was the face, but she wore L’Interdit. When L’Interdit was reissued a few years ago, I think that they used her in the ad.

      I agree with Suzanna, if they called it Pink Dahlia, it would be more descriptive. July 23, 2013 at 9:40am Reply

  • breathesgelatin: Suzanna, have you tried Dahlia Noir L’eau, the newest entry in the line? I’m not saying it’s a masterpiece, but to my nose is the most interesting of the Dahlia Noir family. L’eau is basically a dry, green cologne – very surprising. I haven’t actually put it on skin, just spayed it on paper at my local Dillard’s, but it definitely seemed superior on initial sniff to the EDP or EDT. July 23, 2013 at 9:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Suzanna is away, so she will read the comments later, but I wanted to reply, since I’ve tried Dahlia Noir L’eau and experienced the same thing as you did. It was so sparkling and pretty (none of that musky, sticky sweetness in the base). The drydown becomes mellower, but it’s very good overall. July 23, 2013 at 9:52am Reply

  • Heather W: Great review. As somebody who enjoys truly dark, even witchy, scents, I an very leery of all the current stuff labeled some variant of Noir. It all seems to be even sweeter and fruitier than the daytime stuff. If I were in charge, I would declare a one year moratorium on any use of peach, pear, melon, or berry notes. As long as I’m at it, I’ll ban aquatic and ozonic notes. Then, when noses have them in some kind of perspective, they could be reintroduced in extreme moderation. July 23, 2013 at 9:45am Reply

  • Maureen: I received a sample of this from Macy’s some time ago with a purchase. I barely remember it as kind of boring, and I think I gave the rest of the sample to a friend’s young daughter. There was nothing dark or noir about it. July 23, 2013 at 9:45am Reply

  • Judy: What a sensible, sensitive review. You gave it every chance, even though you didn’t like it. We can’t ask for more than that.

    Agree with Heather W — am getting tired of fruit-salad notes! July 23, 2013 at 9:52am Reply

  • Natalia: Not my cup of tea, at all. The name is misleading, as you mention, but I don’t think it’s the perfume’s biggest fault. To me, its biggest problem is that it’s way too generic (and synthetic-smelling for that matter), something I would never recognize in a crowd. I might not like the modern take on Miss Dior (the one that used to be called Cherie) or La Petit Robe Noire, but at least I never miss these scents when someone is wearing them around me. Dahlia Noir, however, is faceless.
    I agree with the comments on Dahlia Noir L’eau. To my big surprise, I actually liked it very much. The initial notes are wonderful, so fresh and delicate. But the drydown is a bit disappointing, also very generic I think. Nontheless, I am going to continue discovering this one. July 23, 2013 at 11:37am Reply

  • Hannah: If I were a creative designer, I would want to release a perfume that leave my mark on the brand. I think Tom Ford did a good job of this at YSL. Has any fragrance released while Tom Ford was a creative director seemed out of character for either the house or for him? Unless I’m forgetting something, there generally isn’t a disconnect between the ads or names and the fragrances, ether. I think he has a better concept of branding than most.
    Dior Homme also does a really good job of representing the Hedi Slimane era of Dior Homme.

    Since this comment seems off-topic, but point is that this fragrance doesn’t seem to represent Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy at all. It’s not just a disconnect between the name and the fragrance; Riccardo Tisci has very specific branding (Catholicism and a southern Italian heritage, dark romanticism, juxtaposing masculinity with femininity, and so on) that appears to be missing from the fragrance. July 23, 2013 at 12:51pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Catholicism? Riccardo Tisci?! He is flirting with Satanism, The Imperium of the Antichrist, the Illuminati; Baphomet, pentagram upside down, piramids, etc., the whole usual caboodle. Should there be a disconnect between Tisci and Dahlia Noir? After all, Tisci is by no means an Aleister Crowley.
    A fake satanist can be connected with a fake noir perfume. July 23, 2013 at 1:33pm Reply

    • Hannah: Have you read an interview with him? “I grew up Catholic in a Southern Italian town with a mermaid legend in a house with 8 sisters” is something he repeats a lot.
      The use of occult imagery and symbolism by people who have been raised in religious environments is not unusual at all. Italian horror film is one example. July 23, 2013 at 3:47pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Occult imagery and symbolism should not be confused with cheap jumble.
        And there is no connection between religious education and occultism. July 23, 2013 at 4:51pm Reply

        • Hannah: I can see a nerve was struck. But influence of religious art in his work isn’t something I made up. Whether or not you like his work, his branding is based on it and also other things that I mentioned. The point of my comment was that his aesthetic is not pink and baby powder, while a fragrance that is supposed to represent his time at Givenchy is. I really wasn’t trying to debate whether or not he’s a true Catholic or a fake Satanist or anything along those lines. July 23, 2013 at 5:56pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: ”A nerve was struck”…let’s not be too personal.
            I can see your point. My point was: his aesthetic is based on catholicism and occultism, making a mess of both, it,s only flirting. And Dahlia Noir is flirting with occultism as well. So I saw a connection there. That’s all.
            Maybe I have a false impression of mr. Tisci. In that case: sorry.
            Surely Victoria is right: there is an understream of pre-christian elements in our culture, in this case in italian culture. If my doubts regarding mr Tisci are false: sorry again. July 24, 2013 at 2:32am Reply

            • Victoria: Thank you, ladies, for a fascinating discussion! When Suzanna returns, she will surely be chuffed that her review of an unexciting perfume inspired such an interesting exchange. I personally knew very little about Tisci. I agree with both of you that whatever he is inspired by, Dahlia Noir is too tame and pale. But it makes sense given how the big launches work. Perfumers, fashion designers, etc. rarely work together in tandem. I doubt Tisci was deeply involved, if at all, in the creative process. July 24, 2013 at 3:30am Reply

          • Michaela: Of course he is not a true Catholic! :) I am a true Catholic and I think I can recognize someone from my kin! :) The guy is only trying to stand out and he found this “niche” he is exploiting. Trust me, a true Catholic does not buy this indigest mixture of occultism and satanism a la Holywood style! July 27, 2013 at 5:36am Reply

      • Victoria: I’ve been reading a book on Southern Italian bread traditions, and it is fascinating how many pre-Christian elements appear in the decorations for breads used in the religious ceremonies. Reminded me of Russian Easter breads that are shaped… well, let’s say, as a fertility symbol. :) It’s all so intertwined. July 23, 2013 at 5:52pm Reply

        • Austenfan: Did you ever read Carlo Levi’s Cristo si è fermato a Eboli? It’s about Levi’s stay in the South of Italy during the fascist regime. He was forced to live there as he was anti Mussolini. He describes some of the old beliefs that he encountered there as well. July 24, 2013 at 6:44am Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Austenfan, I don’t deny that old beliefs survive, as an understream. I only say that making a direct connection between (catholic) religion and occultism is inaccurate.
            I am curious what Suzanna will think reading all this! July 24, 2013 at 7:07am Reply

            • Cornelia Blimber: btw. you don’t have to go so far away in time as to Carlo Levi. Do you remember, some 10 years ago, ”il divin Otelma”? a pseudo-Crowley, selling among other things love potions made of menstruation blood and red wine. Serious discussions with learned people on RAI UNO!
              But old beliefs are everywhere, not only in Italy. July 24, 2013 at 7:14am Reply

            • Victoria: If I read Hannah’s comments correctly, she wasn’t doing that. Anyway, back to Dahlia Noir… Wearing Dahlia Noir L’Eau again today and I must say that it is a pleasant surprise. Not noir, but not dull either. July 24, 2013 at 9:11am Reply

              • Cornelia Blimber: I think she did. (23 july). Perhaps I understood her falsely. I am tempted to discuss further on real/ fake satanists (very interesting subject) but I will not comment on this anymore. After all it is a blog about perfume. July 24, 2013 at 9:25am Reply

                • Victoria: It’s around 90F in my apartment today, so before my head explodes, let’s drop satanists for now and move on to something else. I’m personally talking strawberries in today’s thread. :) July 24, 2013 at 9:37am Reply

                • george: vigliantcitizen.com is the site for you, Cornelia if you don’t already know it. I LOVE that site; whether I buy in to the theories or not they are very well presented and interesting. July 24, 2013 at 10:41am Reply

                • george: Oh and there is an article on the VC site about Tisci’s dressing of Madonna as Ishtar for the Super Bowl……………and what is seen to be the ritual of that performance. July 24, 2013 at 10:45am Reply

          • Victoria: When I was in Sicily recently, I was amazed how much some shrines reminded me of temples in India–ornate, lushly decorated and scented. I haven’t read that particular work by Levi, but it is now on my list. Thank you! July 24, 2013 at 9:13am Reply

            • Austenfan: It’s the only one of his works that I have read. I really enjoyed it. ( As we share our profession it gave it an added interest.) July 24, 2013 at 9:39am Reply

  • Austenfan: A great review of a not so great scent. It’s funny though that the real “noir” perfumes often don’t have noir in their names. July 23, 2013 at 4:04pm Reply

  • annemariec: Thanks for the reviews Suzanna, and I hope you are enjoying your holiday. It sounds as if the L’Eau is the way to go. But sadly there is very little from Givenchy that I will give the time of day to now. I’ve loved and worn Eau de Givenchy for years, and I’ve given various vintages of L’Interdit a go but loved none of them. To my nose Ysatis is pretty good, although people who wore it back in the day will probably say the current version pales by comparison. I keep meaning to purchase a decant and yet never get around to it. I really should tho’ because Givenchy could discontinue it at any moment. It’s hardly in sync. with their current style if Dahlia Noir is anything to go by. July 24, 2013 at 7:45am Reply

  • george: an interesting debate on illuminati symbolism/catholic influences on Riccardo Tisci’s work (and whether the two are related) Though I agree with Victoria- there is probably a minimal relationship between Tiscii’s creative vision for Givenchy (which I feel also falls with the edgy house style as last elaborated by Alexander macQueen) and this perfume; and let’s also not forget what Suzanna’s take on the perfume- that the title Dahlia Noir gives what’s in the bottle a sense of complexity, intrigue and darkness the juice doesn’t justify.
    On a lighter note, I just went for a lovely walk through the park, as we are in the middle of a heatwave here, when I walked past an older couple out for a walk. As I went past, the woman exclaimed what a wonderful smell. I then looked back and for about a minute they were sniffing the air trying to work out which plants or trees the smell was coming from, and looked puzzled. My money is on that it was my egoiste. July 24, 2013 at 10:39am Reply

    • Austenfan: I love your Egoïste anecdote! It happened to me once when I was training my dog in a group of other new dog-owners. Everyone commented on how odd it was that there was this lovely smell of roses in the air and no rose-bush in the vicinity. I was the culprit as I had oversprayed on Paris! July 24, 2013 at 2:23pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Hi George!
    I read that François Demachy created Dahlia Noir under the direction of Tisci. Tisci : the perfume for a woman representing my style, who is super-sharp-strong but also romantic and soft (interview in Women’s Wear Daily).
    Thank you for vigliantcitizen! I didn’t know it. A really beautiful site, I liked the issue about Eyes Wide Shut, one of my favorite films. As you said, you can enjoy it without taking everything seriously.
    Of course we like more serious stuff better, like Richard Cavendish ”The Black Arts”, The Athlone History of Witchcraft and Magic in Europe, Will-Erich Peuckert ”Geheimkulte”, the works of Frances Yates, or ;;New Age Religion and Western Culture” by Wouter Hanegraaff, to name only a few.
    I have the impression that it’s only a pose, a play in the case of Tisci. Of course he has this roots, but that doesn’t automatically mean he is serious. He likes the dark side, he makes himself interesting with it. But real satanists don’t throw their symbols and rituals at the feet of hoi polloi. They save it for the initiated. Their motto:” hekas, hekas, bebèloi” (I don’t have the Greek alfabet on my computer).
    Of course I can be wrong.
    Victoria, sorry!! please don’t read this! July 24, 2013 at 1:07pm Reply

    • george: Thanks for your reply Cornelia, i shall be looking at your reading recommendations (I especially like the look of Frances Yates’ work). At the moment I am pondering buying a copy of the Malleus Malificorum, though that may be das hexenhammer to you (I also want a copy John Foxe’s book of martyr’s, from the other end of the spectrum, just for the woodcuts)

      The thing I think about designers is that they often just use something because they like what it looks like; and there may be no more significance beyond that; it’s a bit like perfumers throwing things in because they like what they smell like: there is no code, no referentiality, no semiotics to the decision.

      Besides- recently- it really has been rent-a- illuminati symbol season out there at the moment.

      I think it is on its last legs though.

      Apologies Suzanna and Victoria for these tangential ramblings! July 24, 2013 at 1:31pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Did you make it masculine in stead of feminine out of politeness? (maleficorum/maleficarum..).But alas, it is about women. There is a brilliant Dutch book on the topic ; De onttovering van de waanzin, by Marius Engelbrecht. It should be translated in English!

        Is it possible to buy the Malleus in Latin? I guess not..am not sure. July 24, 2013 at 2:22pm Reply

        • george: If you google it, there is a pdf version availalbe in latin. As for me, English will be best: as you have noticed my Latin understanding is non-existent. :-) July 24, 2013 at 3:45pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: I didn’t notice that, because maleficorum is perfectly correct Latin! But as it is a book on feminine witches, you need the fem. form maleficarum.
            It might be a terrible read, but fascinating as a product of its time, I guess.
            However, i wish you happy reading! and thanks for the discussion. July 24, 2013 at 4:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: No worries, as long as you’re having fun, do carry on. All of you know way more on the subject than I do, so it is way over my head anyway. :) July 24, 2013 at 2:31pm Reply

  • Michaela: These 2 perfumes must be among the most boring perfume releases, and this comes from a perfumista enamoured by anything Givenchy… Riccardo Tisci has about 0 connection to Givenchy DNA and overall, the new Givenchy perfumes are completely useless, no matter how many black veils and sepia posters thel’ll throw in! Leaving aside the perfumes do not smell gothic at all, this whole Givenchy-dark-gothic thing is hillarious to say the least! I don’t know who’s having this smart ideas, but I suspect there is at least one genius marketer there who thinks that masquerading gothic will atract young customers. They couldn’t possibly think this will apeal to 35+ clientelle, right? At least NOT the way they are doing it… What’s with these names? It all started with Ange ou Demon, unfortunately, a nice oriental with a lousy name and a kitschy bottle so over the top! And now this black capes, black veils, black names, all this faked noir is just rubbish. Why these bottles? Givenchy is all about the Givenchy twist, the flirty American-French combination of Audrey Hepburn and Hubert de Givenchy! Where is that? Lost, gone, thrown to the dust bin!

    As a former Givenchy groupie I am disgusted, indeed. I wish I were a fly on the walls of their board meetings to catch all their noir brainstorming… July 27, 2013 at 5:25am Reply

  • ann: Speaking of Givenchy, back in the 70’s they produced the original LE DE. It was fabulous and I have never stopped looking for that scent. Does anyone know if they will produce it again or by request (ha!) or where it can be found? I asked the guy who owns Nantucket Natural Oils to make it but he only knows the revival LE DE which is nothing like the original. All suggestions welcome. Many thanks. March 29, 2014 at 9:19pm Reply

  • Adriana Galani: I somehow can’t imagine anyone making a products line inspired by a crime. Happened to have read the book relatively recent and the association is a big no in my mind. On their websight, I saw the “Dahlia Noire” presented as a fantasy flower. I saw an article incriminating that even the shape of the bottle has some association with the main book’s character. I will not put down my opinion any further since the association with that Hollywood inspired novel is for me not to digest. I continue to deny the fact there is anything like that between the two but rather a coincidence. If they really wanted to creat any connection, I guess they would have created this perfume in the memory of that victim or something like that to try selling on that fact’s base. If “Dahlia Noir” connects to crime books, then Juliet has a Gun suggests what. :-)
    Joke apart, the fragrance
    it is a relatively out of trend, something different than the everything out there and this is what fascinated me at the first wrist touch in a duty free in Athens. No it is not dark – I am reffering to EDP now -, but it is not as light either. It reminds of baby powder, yes, minus the “milky” touch which by its absence gives the scent class in my opinion. I sense a good amount of sandal wood in there and the combo rose / patchouli is beautyfully blend. Conclusion? I love it and the way it developes on my skin and so long it is on the market I’ll be a devoted buyer. EDT is unfortunately not for me. August 12, 2014 at 4:54pm Reply

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